Earlier this week, during oral Parliamentary Questions, Deputy Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, about the protection of Dublin Bay and the shocking discharges of sewerage into the Bay.  Deputy Broughan, in particular, highlighted that the Bay is a UNESCO designated Biosphere and said:

“It is astonishing, given this repeated and outrageous environmental vandalism of our UNESCO designated bay and all the associated waters, that the Minister and Irish Water would say that it is normal when one has storm water overflow then sewage will be pumped into Dublin Bay. Our great beaches of Dollymount and Sutton end up with an unbelievable smell and with contaminated waters. It is totally unacceptable. The Minister said it is a UNESCO designated bay, and it is the only one in a capital city on the whole planet, and yet he is not protecting it or taking the necessary steps.” 


Minister Eoghan Murphy replied:

“This summer Dublin has experienced above average rainfall and some periods of exceptionally heavy and sustained rainfall.  As a result, there were sewage overflow issues at Ringsend and at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown West Pier pumping station.  Specific and temporary bathing prohibition notices were issued as a precautionary measure for a number of Dublin beaches during the summer, to protect people, pending water test results. Overflows are designed to ensure that sewers do not back up and flood streets, businesses and homes which would be a much more serious threat to public health.”


He went on to say that “Investment in wastewater infrastructure has been prioritised in the Irish Water Strategic Funding Plan for 2019 – 2014, with an estimated €1.9bn investment planned in wastewater projects over the period, including investment in the Ringsend plant.”


The Minister then replies to Deputy Broughan:

“We have committed €400 million to this plant upgrade, which is incredibly important. Planning permission was achieved earlier this year, which means that they can now commence on site. I have visited the plant and it will be a very significant upgrade. It will not be completed until the end of 2022. I have had direct contact with Irish Water to tell it that early warning systems are to be put in place. When, for example, a yellow weather alert for rain is forecast a warning will go out to bathers that until we have had sufficient time to test the quality of the water not bathe in it.”


Deputy Broughan concluded:

“The Minister’s Government cut capital investment to below the depreciation rate and we could not even maintain the systems we had at the Ringsend plant and at other facilities. Will the interim measures proposed by the Minister ensure that we do not have a repetition, week after week, of noxious pollution of our beautiful bay? The Minister represents the bay area on the south side, and I represent it on the north side. It is a jewel. It is important for the whole cultural life of the city. I am aware that currently the sewerage plant deals with the sewage from the whole of mid Leinster, or half of Leinster. The other facility is needed but at this stage the Minister should be looking to Irish Water to forget about the plan to base a treatment plant in Clonshaugh in the suburbs north of the city. This would provide further emissions into the ecosystem at Portmarnock, which is totally intolerable. This plant has to be moved further north to cater for Swords and the rest of Fingal.”


Deputy Broughan says “Dublin Bay is such a beautiful part of my constituency in Dublin Bay North.  It is a UNESCO Biosphere and should be treated as such.  Apart from that, the leakage of raw and untreated sewerage into the Bay was an awful disruption to bathers during the summer months.  It also puts our marine life in danger.  Better planning is necessary, and issues must be rectified in coming months.”